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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Mega on November 18, 2013, 08:06:26 AM

Title: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: Mega on November 18, 2013, 08:06:26 AM
Since everyone on here is very organized, prioritized and focused, I am hoping you can provide guidance on what project / task management tools you use to keep yourselves going.

What do you use to track annual home maintenance tasks? Does this solution include reminders / automatic rescheduling (annually/monthly/weekly) of maintenance?

What do you use to keep track of your family commitments? Do you use a calendar on the fridge, or a shared (Google) calendar? Do you print out a weekly calendar, and hand update as needed?

What tools do you use at work? Do you use actual project management software, or just Excel spreadsheets (I suppose it is project dependent)?

How do you sort your tasks? (e.g. a rating scale of importance and urgency: Important but not urgent - replace furnace filter; Important AND urgent - fix plugged toilet; Not important but urgent - clean my car). Does your solution have native support for your sorting, or do you sort them using manual approaches?

Which software programs do you use? Do they have a Blackberry app (work supplied phone)?

Thank you!
Title: Re: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: Russ on November 18, 2013, 08:25:37 AM
At work I keep my to-do items in Excel, with a sheet for little stuff and then a sheet for big stuff in each project with target dates for each item. It's pretty minimal as far as corporate task lists are concerned. Everybody else uses @Task (project management software), and I thank the heavenly spirit of on-time percentages that I don't have to. I understand it's good for communication, but it also sounds like a huge time-suck.

I don't do any of that task list stuff at home. Being task-oriented takes the fun out of doing housework for me so I just do things as they come up / as I feel like doing them. It probably helps that I live in an apartment and don't really own anything that requires regular maintenance (although I chose to live that way on purpose, I didn't just fall into it). Calendar stuff goes into Google Calendar, which I use as a date-sorted list of all the things I could possibly want to do (all concerts, parties, volunteer things, etc.). It's still not really a list of "things I will do" as much as a list of "possible things to do if I feel like it"
Title: Re: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: gooki on November 18, 2013, 09:52:30 AM
I use as a work and personal project management / to do / brain dump tool. It's easy and free. I then use my outlook calendar for reminders (meetings/appointments).

At home we use a wall calendar to keep track of appointments/events.
Title: Re: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: Paul der Krake on November 18, 2013, 10:08:49 AM
I second trello for broad tasks, that's what we use at work.
For the nitty gritty details of a particular task, sticky notes and the good old TODO.txt in /home/paul.

When I have something to write down that I want to remember and don't know when I'll need it, Evernote.

I used to use GitIt ( ) but missed the ability to add stuff quickly on the go like evernote lets you do.

I also keep a lot of notes on my fridge reminding me to help me manage of all my management software...
Title: Re: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: Mega on November 18, 2013, 12:46:52 PM
Thank you for your input so far.

Right now, all I use is an un-ordered notebook... and things usually end up buried. So I know I need to start taking things out of the notebook and putting them in appropriate buckets...
Title: Re: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: Miamoo on November 18, 2013, 01:23:55 PM
Sorry!  At work I just used notebooks, took notes daily and then flipped back for reminders or - majorly important stuff was put on post-its stuck to the sides of the computer screen as reminders and/or a whiteboard in my office that I could look at daily.

At home, still have my notebook ever present on the kitchen table.  2 calendars on the laundry room wall, one for my husband, one for me.

So not into tech.  Wish sometimes that I were but all these on-line calendars etc. seem like more trouble than they're worth and pop up reminders just annoy me.  Also, what happens if you don't check every day?  Do you miss something?  Then what?

Besides, I've found and still feel that . . . actually writing things down helps me remember . . . from the brain, down the arm, to the pen, to the paper. 

Recurring bills (if that's part of it?) I just put in the check register - same old stuff every first of the month and then that's done.

Calendars?  Handwritten? 

Title: Re: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: impaire on November 18, 2013, 01:47:25 PM
Shared Gcalendars with my husband;
Evernote for lists of things "I want to get to at some point";
GTasks (on my phone) for all my tasks (I've paid for the premium version that includes repetitive tasks); I spend about one hour Every Sunday generating a list of all that needs doing that week (since it's very variable) and checking with planned tasks that it is doable;
Running shopping list on the fridge;
"Weekly meal plan" on my laptop--I jot down ideas when I encounter them, so I can go back to it when planning grocery shopping.
Bills and such are opened on the day that they arrive--either taken care of immediately or entered in Gtasks. Same for emails.

This may seem like a lot, but I'm naturally disorganized and forgetful, so I need to "outsource" structure. In fact, when I am in complex "commitment juggling" periods (like right now), I also take 5-10 minutes every evening to outline the following day (hour by hour) and in the evening I compare what I had planned to what I actually did. In the long run, the exercise has helped me rein in my "time optimism" a bit, and I feel better because I know I got a lot done even though I didn't actually write, work out, volunteer, clean, teach, cook, read, socialize, review my languages, etc. that day.
Title: Re: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: mlipps on November 18, 2013, 02:59:25 PM
At work, I like using the task list that's built into Outlook, since most things I need to do are related to emails I receive. I just flag those as they come in. We're not a very "tech-y" office & no one takes phones or computers to meetings, so I just put a star next to things I need to follow up & add them to a list of things to do I keep on paper.
Title: Re: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: boy_bye on November 18, 2013, 03:09:25 PM
i use a hybrid system:

* trello for planning with a group
* a paper journal for brain dumps
* simplenote for next actions list, project list, shopping lists, packing list
* appointments for work go in the outlook calendar, personal appointments go in ical, and my phone shows me both calendars

after much tweaking, this system seems to be working pretty well for me lately. the biggest thing for me is that i really need to do a serious brain dump/planning session at least once a week, or else i tend to lose track of stuff ...
Title: Re: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: eljay on November 19, 2013, 04:05:45 AM
I use Remember The Milk for both one-off and recurring tasks.
Its configurable for prioritizing using either priorities or tags. Also you can set up Smart Lists so you're only seeing stuff that is relevant for that date/location.

I use Evernote to capture ideas and paperwork (books i want to read, ideas for next holiday, interesting web articles, recipes, bills, home project planning etc.).
Title: Re: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: Noodle on November 19, 2013, 06:07:20 AM
For work, I finally settled on a Word document as my to-do list. I keep a list of all my big projects and then the sub-projects and tasks. The top of the list is 4-5 urgent tasks due in the next week or so. As I finish tasks I strike them through and then once a week or so move all the marked off items to the bottom of the list.  It comes in handy at review time when I need to recap work achievements. I pretty much keep all appointments on my work calendar. I don't do that much outside of work that needs calendaring.  (Part of the reason for this system is that our IT department restricts software downloads and access to many websites, so I had to figure out a solution with what I had).

I also keep emails that need responses in my inbox and am pretty ruthless about filing everything else. I usually only have 8-10 items in there.  Part of my system is that if someone asks me in passing to do something, I always ask them to send an email to remind me. I get a lot of requests from a lot of people because I am the connector for a number of projects. Sometimes I am the right person to ask, and sometimes not, and I forward...also it screens for people who really need something vs. those who just ask because they think of it when I happen to be there.

At home, I use the app "Buy Me a Pie" for grocery lists. I think I got it free at one point. They have a website also, and I'm usually near either my phone, tablet or computer when I think of an item to add. It has multiple lists, so I can keep lists for the stores I go to more rarely. I like the fact that it color-codes the list and sorts into different sections of the store.

Then for other personal lists (to do, movies, recipes), I use the Apple Reminders app and the Notes App to capture various bits and pieces of info.
Title: Re: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: Miamoo on November 19, 2013, 02:53:32 PM
Good Gawd I am an antique.  Just gimme a pen.
Title: Re: Project / Task / Life Management Tools
Post by: Rural on November 19, 2013, 03:01:10 PM
I use Google calendar for appointments, meetings, that sort of thing. That's shared with my husband, and he has his own calendar for the same sorts of things, plus each of us has calendars for special events such as my individual classes and the team he coaches. We keep work and family obligations there.

For tasks, I have an old-fashioned notebook and pen to-do list. I keep it on my desk and it's the first thing I look at when I get to work in the morning. I also keep a fair number of personal tasks there, as well.

My lesson planning, such as it is, involves a post it note on the front of my roll book each week. I list out what I want to accomplish in each class by day, but it's about 10 minutes worth of effort the first day of each week. My syllabus always has a full calendar in it, anyway, so I'm really just making reminders to myself, not the main deal.

He does his lesson planning in Excel, and it's fairly elaborate, but he doesn't have the entire course planned out on the calendar when he starts; with a year-long course, that's virtually impossible.

Far house construction and house finishing taskst, we use a Gantt chart.